Wednesday, December 24, 2008
I've been thinking a lot this week about poet Elizabeth Alexander, Pastor Rick Warren, president-elect Obama, & this blog. I've written & re-written responses, but haven't been satisfied enough with any of them to post them here.
I respectfully disagree with the request for Elizabeth Alexander to refuse the invitation to read at the inauguration.
I do urge her to use her increased visibility to speak out against Proposition 8.
I've been thinking, too, about PA Senator Casey (my vote for whom I have debated & argued, including on this blog), and his speech at this year's Democratic National Convention, particularly the following passage:
"So now let us work together, with a leader who, as Lincoln said, appeals to the better angels of our nature. Barack Obama and I have an honest disagreement on the issue of abortion. But the fact that I’m speaking here tonight is testament to Barack’s ability to show respect for the views of people who may disagree with him. I know Barack Obama. And I believe that as president, he’ll pursue the common good by seeking common ground, rather than trying to divide us. We are strongest when we are together. And there has never been a more important time to devote ourselves to common purpose."
President-elect Obama promised during his campaign to bring together opposing opinions and voices. He seems to take more seriously than any other president in my memory the notion that as the president of the United States, he represents not just those who agree with him, not just those who supported him, but the many who do not & did not. Rather than ignoring those dissenting voices, he seems to be genuine in his desire to listen and discuss and try to find common ground.
I respectfully disagree with Conrad's opinion that: "while [president-elect Obama] talks about building and maintaining bridges with opposing forces, that should not in my opinion spill over into the celebration of his inauguration."
I believe, rather, that a promise to build and maintain bridges with opposing forces is doomed to fail when one qualifies that pledge with the caveat, "Except for this historic occasion, with the whole world watching – I'm only going to invite those who agree with me to that. We'll work on the bridge-thing later. After the party."
Ultimately, after writing and rewriting my response, I read Melissa Etheridge's op-ed on the Huffington Post (written after her recent conversation and meeting with Pastor Warren, when she performed at for the Muslim Public Affairs Council, at which he was the keynote speaker), and found that she kind of did it for me:
"Brothers and sisters the choice is ours now. We have the world's attention. We have the capability to create change, awesome change in this world, but before we change minds we must change hearts. Sure, there are plenty of hateful people who will always hold on to their bigotry like a child to a blanket. But there are also good people out there, Christian and otherwise that are beginning to listen. They don't hate us, they fear change. Maybe in our anger, as we consider marches and boycotts, perhaps we can consider stretching out our hands. Maybe instead of marching on [Pastor Warren's] church, we can show up en mass and volunteer for one of the many organizations affiliated with his church that work for HIV/AIDS causes all around the world.
Maybe if they get to know us, they won't fear us.
I know, call me a dreamer, but I feel a new era is upon us.
I will be attending the inauguration with my family, and with hope in my heart. I know we are headed in the direction of marriage equality and equal protection for all families.
Happy Holidays my friends and a Happy New Year to you.
Peace on earth, goodwill toward all men and women... and everyone in-between."